Report on VoteTrustUSA Workshop
By Sean Flaherty, Iowans for Voting Integrity
April 25, 2006
Following right on the icountcoalition’s Lobby Days for HR 550 , New Jersey Rep. Rush Holt’s election integrity bill, VoteTrustUSA
held its national strategy workshop for election activists.
Representatives of election integrity groups from all across the
country met at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. April 7-9 to
trade ideas and get advice from people who have been fighting this
fight for years.
Carole Simmons and I represented Iowans for Voting Integrity. We
heard more valuable ideas for promoting election reform than I can
enumerate here. Among the most important and practical:
(1)The most obvious— be a pollworker or a pollwatcher. See the Poll Monitors’ and Poll Workers’ Guide to Electronic Voting
for ideas on what to observe. In Iowa ballot counting is public, so you
don’t need to be either a pollworker or pollwatcher to observe the
counting of the votes. Show up where the votes are being counted and
record events. Be very alert to what you see, but be polite and
respectful to election workers. Some election activists have developed
remarkably productive relationships with local and state officials by
simply being nice and knowledgeable. Challenge what you think is wrong,
but you are not there to say “gotcha.”
(2)Write yourself a pithy, 30-second speechon the election integrity
issue. Be ready to go into detail, but be able to make your point
quicky. Example: “In this country, we have several companies running
our elections on behalf of our governments. You wouldn’t believe how
secretive these companies are and what little power any level of
government has to regulate them.” Plenty of people can do better than
that example speech, but it gives you an idea.
These are the most specific and local actions an election integrity
advocate can undertake. We still need state and federal laws requiring
truly independent testing of voting equipment, voter-verified paper
ballots, random hand audits, and fully disclosed vote-counting
software. But nothing does more for our cause than the close
observation of elections and election equipment in your own area. After
all, it is a mountain of specific and local examples of hackable voting
machines, careless procedures, and other oddities that is moving
election reform ever closer to the country’s front burner.
(3)Watchdog your county election system. John Washburn, a software
tester and election activist in Wisconsin, describes four things you
can do about voting integrity in your county:
*Show up at the offices of the county commissioner for the L&A
testing of the software. No need to help— just show up and record the
*Examine the purchase documents to confirm the system your election
administrator is buying or has taken delivery on is actually
*If the state-approved system has conditional use requirements (e.g.
security protocols), ask your election administrator for documentation
the conditions of use are being met.
*Show up at the precinct canvassing of votes and or the county-wide
tabulation. Again, no need to help just show up and record the
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